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Tuesday letters: To survive, panthers need to be relocated

Land deal is a loser for Florida panther | Feb. 5, editorial

Panthers need to be relocated

Regardless of the travesty of land deals that continue to whittle away at panther habitat, your editorial chastising such deals, while well-intentioned, misses the forest for the trees. Only one component of the 2008 Panther Recovery Plan can restore them: reintroductions.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service research indicates that potential habitat north of the Caloosahatchee River is at best marginal, is disconnected from primary habitat in the Big Cypress region, and is capable of supporting perhaps another 30 to 40 cats. Development density and the barrier of the Caloosahatchee already severely limit their dispersal north into Central Florida. Young, dispersing panthers are consistently turned back by the Caloosahatchee; these are animals meant, but unable to pioneer, new colonies, as births continue to outpace all mortality factors. The population has achieved carrying capacity with nowhere to go.

Southern and Central Florida can never support even one of the recovery plan's two proposed populations of 240 cats needed to remove the panther from the endangered species list. And absent from this region are adequate dispersal corridors north providing the opportunity for migration between potential populations to ensure against inbreeding, allowing for vital genetic exchange.

There is no better time to utilize breeding gains, translocate these young cats and begin reintroductions to at least two promising Southeastern regions identified in Fish and Wildlife Service studies known as the Thatcher report. Statewide Florida opinion studies, surveys of residents near potential relocation sites and polling of outdoor sportsmen indicate overwhelming public support for panther reintroductions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can no longer delay establishing the single initiative that will guarantee the southern panther's recovery. Critically missing from the recovery plan is a time line to begin reintroductions. Any calls for protecting the panther from decades of sweetheart land deals without simultaneously advocating for the necessity of reintroductions neglect the primary issue in the cat's recovery.

Stephen Williams, president, the Florida Panther Society Inc., Gainesville; Christopher Spatz, president, Eastern Cougar Foundation, Rosendale, N.Y.

Insurer's profits: healthy Feb. 12, story

Demand some reform in health insurance

President Barack Obama, members of Congress and all of Washington should be up in arms about this report of insurers' profits. Millions of Americans cannot afford health insurance not only due to the ever-rising cost of premiums and the outrageous cost of health care itself but also because of the sad state of our economy. Yet these insurance companies are reporting profits in the billions.

When does this end? How much longer are these insurance companies going to be allowed to monetarily rape the American people? How much more ammunition does Washington need to reform this pathetic health care system of ours? How many billions does it take to satisfy the hunger of these conglomerates? And when are the American people going to finally say enough is enough and demand some type of universal health care system this country so desperately needs?

Jack Burlakos, Kenneth City

Insurer's profits: healthy Feb. 12, story

Fodder for the system

The recent listing of the grotesque profits of some insurance companies should ring some bells in our minds. It is getting to a point where "too big to fail" should read "too big to control." It feeds on itself.

These enormous sums of money will eventually turn into campaign funds to influence Congress.

The recent Supreme Court decision on campaign funding is tantamount to turning our entire country over to corporate control. The "Tea Party" people probably are blind to this from the looks of their agenda.

Jack Levine, Palm Harbor

Contended Canadians Feb. 12, letter

The Medicare mess

The letter writer indicated that Canadians love their government health care system and that Americans love their successfully government-run Medicare.

Medicare and Medicaid will both soon be broke, busted and borrowing from one hand to pay for what the other hand is doing. How can Medicare be considered by anyone to be a successful program?

I have been in the business side of medicine for more than 30 years and must say of all the really bad programs, the governmental programs rank "worst of the worst."

Mary Jane Curtis, Sun City Center

Contended Canadians Feb. 12, letter

Costs are a concern

I have spoken with many visiting Canadians in Florida as well as Canadians during our travels about their health care. Uniformly, they have indicated that their health care is adequate. However, they do have to wait for treatments and surgeries.

They are particularly unhappy with their high taxes and the fact that their government must continue to pump large sums of money into the health care program to allow it to continue, which all boils down to even higher taxes for all those already overtaxed Canadians.

Robert K. Reader, Clearwater

Contended Canadians Feb. 12, letter

Quick treatment

I would like to add my snowbird voice to that of this letter writer.

On Christmas Day my sister, living in a rural Ontario home 40 minutes from the nearest hospital, fell and broke her hip. She managed to crawl to the phone, pull on the wire to pull it down from its perch on a dresser and call 911. She was picked up by an ambulance within half an hour, had her hip surgery performed by a world-class medical team at Kingston General Hospital within 24 hours of her accident, and received treatment at a nearby rehab center.

The patient is doing fine, thank you. No money changed hands. That's it.

Neville Wells, St. Petersburg

Tuesday letters: To survive, panthers need to be relocated 02/15/10 [Last modified: Monday, February 15, 2010 7:26pm]
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